Community celebrates Provo Tabernacle with concert, memorial


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PROVO -- A community gathered together Sunday to pay tribute to the historic Provo Tabernacle. The building went up in flames Friday, and it's still unclear if it can be rebuilt.

A grieving community came to the UCCU Events Center at Utah Valley University for a memorial and benefit concert. The Provo Tabernacle has special meaning to everyone who attended, including Gov. Gary Herbert.


They can't replace the craftsmanship of the pioneers and the memory of all of that, but if they can save the facade and make it a beautiful place to use again, that would be wonderful.

–LaDawn Osborn


"The downtown experience was one that was exciting for me as a young boy, going down particularly at Christmas time," he said. "The Tabernacle was part of the ambiance that was taking place down there."

The program continued with a slide show of photos of the beloved tabernacle, from its early years to modern day -- even the loss. There were tears but also feelings of hope, reinforced by a photo of a portrait that burned, except the area around the image of Christ.

"They can't replace the craftsmanship of the pioneers and the memory of all of that, but if they can save the facade and make it a beautiful place to use again, that would be wonderful," said LaDawn Osborn.

The tabernacle caught fire early Friday morning and the roof quickly caved in. Provo Mayor John Curtis toured the site Saturday. He went up one of the towers and said the view was devastating.

Provo Firefighters look at a painting of Christ that was burned in the fire. The fire burned the entire image except the image of Christ near the center. (Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)
Provo Firefighters look at a painting of Christ that was burned in the fire. The fire burned the entire image except the image of Christ near the center. (Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

"All I can think was the pictures and video I had seen of World War II," he said. "It truly looked that ravished on the inside of that building."

Almost everything inside the building was destroyed, including hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of personal property. Lex de Azevedo and his Millennium Choral Society were supposed to perform "Gloria: The Life of Christ" at the Tabernacle this weekend.

They rehearsed there on Thursday.

"When we were through rehearsing, it was about 11 p.m.," he said. "I just went out in the audience to take it all in because I was so excited. I thought, ‘this is going to be one of the best concerts we've ever done.'"

The show went on Sunday, only the scenery was a bit different. Donations collected will go to recover costs for the group's lost equipment and instruments.

But they say that's little compared to a building that can't be replaced.

The Provo mayor says the structural integrity of the building still has yet to be determined. Fire investigators say it could be weeks before they know the cause of the fire.

E-mail: syi@ksl.com

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Sandra Yi

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